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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

GOVERNMENT CUTS HIT POOR HARD

The impact of Swaziland’s economic meltdown on the poor of the kingdom is highlighted by the IRIN news agency. Even though the Swazi Government pledged not to make cuts in the education and health services in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, cuts to other government services, such as maintenance to roads and vehicles, is impacting on people’s lives. Many sick people cannot make it to hospital for treatment because there is no longer transport available.

IRIN interviews Thabsile Ndlovu, a widow in the mountainous northern Hhohho region, who has not been able to pay her children's school fees because she cannot travel to town to sell vegetables from her garden.

‘The buses are not coming to my area because the roads are now so bad,’ she says.

Recent heavy rains have made some roads impassable but the government announced this week that its fleet of road graders was inoperative because it lacked money to buy spare parts.

‘At the start of the financial crisis government told us that education and health would not be affected, but we find there are many ways these can be affected,’ said Stanley Dube, a financial consultant in the central commercial town of Manzini.

He noted that while government clinics may still be providing basic health services, many patients are finding it difficult to reach them.

Local humanitarian NGOs are also feeling the pinch following a government decision to cut financial support to such organizations by 14 percent.

To read the full IRIN report, click here.

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